Saturday 26 February 2000
Chester City 1 Brighton & Hove
Albion 7 (Seven)
Chester City: Brown, Hobson,
Pickering, Lancaster, Hicks, Keister, Porter, Hemmings, Moss, Beckett,
Eyjolfsson. Subs (to be allocated): Finney, Fisher, Reid, Doughty, Blackburn.
Brighton & Hove Albion: Walton, Watson, Mayo, McPherson,
Freeman, Oatway, Aspinall (Rogers 79), Brooker, Zamora (Ramsay 72), Crosby,
Hart. Subs not used: Ormerod, Carr, Armstrong.
Referee: A.Hall (Birmingham)
It's not every weekend that you see
history being made - but that was the case at the Deva.
It's the first time I've seen a referee in a fluorescent
green shirt. Mr Hall and his two extremely portly linesman
cut a dash when they emerged prior to kick off . Oh
and there was also the matter of Chester's worst ever
home defeat. I can't think of a worse one can you?
Woods had failed a fitness test in
the morning - tonsilitis apparently - so Martyn Lancaster
came into the defence to partner debutant Stuart Hicks.
The game began brightly enough with Chester forcing
a corner and Siggi having a promising shot muffled.
But Brighton soon began to dominate. Paul Brooker on
loan from Fulham on the left of midfield gave Moss
and Pickering a torrid time. Even the overweight Warren
Aspinall was allowed to dominate midfield. It was following
Aspinall's deft pass that Bob Zamora (On loan from
Bristol Rovers) made a run on goal with Lancaster seeming
to push him wide. Zamora got a weak shot in which somehow
managed to bounce over Brown's arm for a soft goal.
Brown beat the ground in frustration. Three minutes
later it was two - nil and the escape plan looked in
tatters. A flicked header at the near post was bundled
in by Zamora at the far one. Brown was so incensed
he booted the ball furiously away and pole-axed Keister
who needed to receive treatment as a result.
Still we hoped that if City could
just get one back before half time then we might salvage
a point. The best chances fell to Hemmings a header
over the bar and a shot after he had cut inside also
just too high. We were awarded a free kick on the edge
of the box though Crosby who manhandled Siggi all
match seemed to have clattered him inside the penalty
area. The free kick came to nothing, but the weak referee
after pacing out ten yards allowed the Brighton wall
to remain at eight. Crosby then cynically clobbered
Hemmings after the whistle had gone for offside - causing
what I understand to be a very nasty injury. Needless
to say the ref didn't see it.
Contrary to newspaper reports, Fisher
came on at half time for the injured Hemmings. Any
optimism we harboured for a City revival quickly evapourated
when McPherson was allowed to head in from within the
six yard box through a static defence just four minutes
after the break. Brown then lost his rag and started
mouthing obscenities back to the Sealand End as one
or two were blaming him for the goals. Soon after he
was picking the ball out of the net again as he let
a shot from Brooker under his body. This was too much
to bear for Brown and the next opportunity he got he
raced out of his goal to send an attacker flying the
ball heading aimlessly for touch at the time. Everyone,
Brown included, expected a red card but the referee
decided staying on the pitch was the greater punishment.
Zamora duly completed his hat trick from the spot.
Brighton now could score at will,
the stuffing having completely gone out of City. Freeman
did so at the second attempt at the far post after
Brown had parried his close range shot. Doughty came
on for Keister and he and Fisher linked up effectively
for spells as the match took on the air of an exhibition
game. Finney came on and set up a goal for Beckett.
A goal that was greeted with cheers from Brighton and
Chester fans alike. Embarrassingly the Blur music played
over the tannoy. The Sealand End sang "You're not singing
any more" to the visitors.
Rogers, on for Aspinall, completed
the rout with a spectacular volley from outside the
box - even City fans applauded that one.
Where do we go from here? It has
to be Exeter and hope for better things.
Friday 18 February 2000
Swansea City 2 Chester
Swansea City: Freestone,
Howard, Bound, O'Leary (Alsop 53), S.Jones, Coates (Casey
80), Cusack, Thomas, Price, Watkin, Boyd, Alsop (Bird
90). Subs not used: J.Jones, Evans.
Chester City: Brown, Hobson, Woods, Robinson, Pickering,
Hemmings (Fisher 79), Porter, Keister (Richardson 75), Moss, Beckett, Eyjolfsson.
Subs not used: Finney, Doughty, Lancaster.
Referee: P Walton (Northants).
Chester were just minutes away from
one of the shock results of the season before conceding
two cruel late goals at the Vetch Field. The first
half was Chester's best of the season as they created
two glorious chances in the opening minutes, unfortunately
Luke Beckett wasted both opportunities, misplacing
a crucial pass to Eyjolfsson and then failing to convert
from the Icelandic's cross.
Wayne Brown saved from former Wrexham
player Steve Watkin before Chester deservedly took
the lead with a great goal. John Keister, who had a
great game in midfield, won possession jut outside
the box and fed the ball to Eyjolfsson whose 20 yarder
found the bottom corner to send the small pocket of
away fans into raptures.
The Swans could only muster two other
chances in the first half, Watkin shooting wide from
10 yards from the best of them.
Following the break Swansea brought
on Alsop and reverted to 'route one', though the Chester
defence still held out with few problems. Of the chances
that were created, Watkin and Price both shot weakly
at Wayne Brown.
Keister, who, like Luke Beckett had
run tirelessly all night was replaced with 15 minutes
remaining by Nick Richardson and manager Ian Atkins
also decided to withdraw Tony Hemmings, having his
best game for City, and replacing him with Neil Fisher.
Fisher was soon in the action clearing off he line
from Alsop before things started to go horribly wrong
With just eight minutes remaining,
skipper Gary Hobson turned a left wing cross into his
own net. And then with the referee playing over five
minutes of added time, Watkin rose to send a looping
header over Wayne Brown.
Speaking of the added time referee
Pete Walton said: "I added a half a minute for
each substitution, so there's two and a half minutes
for a start. Chester used delaying tactics twice and
I had to warn them although I can't remember the incidents."
City manager Ian Atkins was furious
after the game: "Again you have to look at the referee.
The last three games we have suffered with bad decisions
from officials. Last week the ball hit the underside
of the bar and bounced a yard over the line and a goal
wasn't given. Against Rochdale, they scored a last minute
goal from a free kick, a free kick that never should
have been given. Then I can't believe what I've seen
tonight. Their first goal is from a free kick that should
have been our throw in, and then he conjures up four
minutes of injury time when there hasn't been a physio
on the pitch. I can't accept that and I can't accept
that half a minute is added on every time there is a
substitution. It just baffles me sometimes how referee's
can make these decisions."
Saturday 12 February 2000
Chester City 0 Hull
Chester City: Brown,
Pickering, Woods, Robinson, Hobson, Moss, Keister (Richardson 72),
Hemmings (Doughty 67), Eyjolesson, Beckett, Porter. Subs not used:
Reid, Lancaster, Finney.
Hull City: Wilson, Harper, Greaves, Edwards, Whittle,
Whitney, Boldey, Joyce, Harris, Eyre, Brown (Wood 75), Subs not used: Bracey,
Schofield, Morley, Quigley.
Referee: F.Stretton (Nottingham).
A controversial refereeing decision robbed Chester
of three vital points, as a Siggi Eyjolfsson shot on 40 minutes
appeared to cross the line after hitting the bar. There were admissions
from Hull players after the game that the ball had crossed the
After the game manager Atkins said: "When you
score goals you expect them to be given. You look to the referee
and the linesman to do their jobs properly and a poor decision
has cost us a couple of points. That's the rub of the green. Perhaps
Siggy should have put the ball into the net first time from where
he was. But I don't think anyone can deny that we deserved to win
that game. We created some top class chances and Siggy was magnificent."
For once City's defence looked in control with
Hull only having one real chance of note as Jason Harris headed
over in the 65th minute from 10 yards.
Eyjolfsson was at the centre of all City best
chances, setting up Luke Beckett on 77 minutes but the striker was
guilty of a bad miss putting the ball wide of the post. And in the
last minute the Icelandic forward set up Darren Moss whose shot was
well blocked by Steve Wilson in the visitors' goal.
Saturday 5 February 2000
Rochdale 2 Chester
Rochdale: Gibson, Evans,
Monington, Bayliss, Stokes, Flitcroft (Ford 82), Peake, Jones, Bettney,
Lancashire, Ellis (Platt 62). Subs not used: Priestley, Atkinson,
Chester City: Brown, Pickering (Moss 58), Woods, Robinson,
Hobson, Fisher (Doughty 58), Porter, Keister, Hemmings (Eve 72), Eyjolesson,
Beckett. Subs not used: Richardson, Wright.
Referee: J.Robinson (Hull).
A heartbreaking end to a match that City for
their battling second half performance deserved, and should have
got, a point from.
City should have been dead and buried by half-time
as their non-existent defence allowed Dale too much room on the
ball. Time after time the home wingers were allowed to turn inside
and deliver crosses with City's back four failing to get stuck
in. One notable exception was new skipper Gary Hobson, who, once
again gave a sterling performance. City's midfield of John Keister
and new signing Andy Porter didn't get in the game at all.
City had the better of the opening minutes with
Siggi Eyjolfsson putting Luke Beckett through but he delayed his
shot and failed to test rookie goalkeeper Paul Gibson.
Dale took the lead on nine minutes though former
City loan-player Graham Lancashire. Ally Pickering, not for the
first time, allowed winger Chris Bettney time to run down the left,
stop, turn inside and deliver a pinpoint cross onto Lancashire's
head. The little striker lost his marker and glanced the ball into
the far corner leaving Wayne Brown flat footed.
Dale almost doubled their lead, Tony Ellis raced
though on goal only for Wayne Brown to race out and save at the
strikers feet Brown made a telling save again from a left wing
free kick as Tony Ellis had a shot cleared off the line by Porter,
Monnington also had a header cleared off the line by Beckett as
Dale applied the pressure.
Cioty had a goldedn chance to equalise against
the run of play. Hemmings fed Hobson down the left and his cross
was headed wide by Jamie Robinson from eight yards out.
Following the break manager Ian Atkins made a
tactical change. On came young full backs Darren Moss and Matt
Doughty, for Neil Fisher and Pickering, and City now with three
at the back became a different proposition.
Gibson saved well, low down near the post, from
a shot by Eyjolfsson, and Bayliss was on hand to prevent a debut
goal by Porter by clearing his shot off the line.
Brown saved well from Jones before City levelled
the scores with a fantastic goal from Luke Beckett. Eyjolfsson
fed striker on the half way line and Beckett then sent Angus Eve
away on the right. Eve raced down the wing before delivering a
perfect cross onto Becketts head for the striker to finish in style.
The noise and celebrations from the 672 visiting
fans was tremendous as a beaming Beckett ran round to greet them,
minus his shirt!
City paid a cruel price however with just two
minutes left as they conceeded yet another needless free kick.
Peake crossed the ball into the box which bobbled around before
Bayliss hooked the ball home.